Colorado knows its microbrews, but somehow our local beer just keeps getting better. Jeremy Pluck, brewmaster at Gore Range Brewery in Edwards, said Colorado Craft Beer Week is a great opportunity to showcase the brews that really embody what the craft craze is all about.
"Colorado is definitely very strong on the radar of the world-wide craft beer scene, there is no question about that," Pluck said. "This week is just a great time to celebrate what is becoming a really cool movement. In the last four or five years, people are coming after microbrews with much more curiosity and enthusiasm."
This Monday marks the start of the inaugural Colorado Brewers Guild event, and festivities will be held all over the state. Eagle County's own breweries and restaurants have teamed up to showcase their local flavor, and Bonfire Brewing Company in Eagle is getting a jump start on the week with a St. Patrick's Day celebration on Sunday.
"We'll have our first new release, an Irish red ale, as well as green beer, live bluegrass featuring Monocle, and a limited amount of custom St. Patty's Day Bonfire t-shirts," said Andy Jessen, co-founder and "Master of Minutiae" at Bonfire Brewing Co.
Meet, greet and sample
Green beer is good for a laugh and some luck, but Jessen said the "Meet Your Eagle County Brewmasters" event at Vail Ale House on Tuesday night will be the best way to meet the men behind the magic.
"All three brewmasters from the local breweries will be there," Jessen said. "Each will bring a unique and rare beer, and the Ale House will put some things on the menu to highlight the three beers that will be on tap."
Jessen said brewmaster Matt Wirtz will bring a new brown ale to the event.
"The Karate Hop will be released on Monday and will be brought to the Ale House on Tuesday," Jessen said. "It's a traditional American brown, but it's 25 percent hoppier than a normal brown ale."
Pluck said Gore Range will offer the Boss Hop IPA. He said it's lighter on the malt character, and has some hop notes of grapefruit, apricot and pine.
"I didn't go super bitter with it," Pluck said. "Although it's still proper IPA level on hops and flavoring."
Kevin Selvy, brewmaster of Crazy Mountain Brewery, said he will pour a bourbon barrel-aged sour black ale, Cara De Luna. He said the beer spent seven months in Breckenridge Bourbon barrels, allowing it to acquire a delicate oak aroma and a well-balanced bourbon flavor that goes nicely with the deep malt character of the beer.
"During the aging process, a slight sour character emerged, which pairs with the chocolate notes from the beer," Selvy said. "This accentuates the beer's carbonation and offers a nice, light mouth-feel."
Crazy Mountain has events and parties planned all throughout the state for Colorado Craft Beer week, and Selvy said there will be a lot of excitement to spread around.
"We are tapping some special beers that have been aging for a long time and are thrilled to make their debut," he said. "The party at Vail Ale House on Tuesday is a great way for locals to get to know the three brewers behind their favorite local craft beers."
Pair your pint
After you sip-through your local favorites, check out some of the state's other staple brews at the Vail Ale House beer dinner on Thursday. The event is in collaboration with the Colorado Brewers Guild, and will include Avery, Ska, Upslope, New Belgium, Boulder Beer and Great Divide breweries.
"I think this week is great for Vail because craft beer in this valley is starting to grow and catch on," said Jason Barber, Vail Ale House general manager. "This is the first-ever beer dinner at the Ale House, and we are excited to show off our chef and the remodel."
The event, held from 6:30 to 10 p.m., will include a six-course dinner from chef Tony Miller, with each course of food paired with a beer from one of the participating breweries. Tickets are $65, with a portion of each ticket sold going to the Colorado Brewers Guild to support Colorado craft beer. Tickets can be purchased online at vailalehouse.com or at the Vail Ale House.